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In Memoriam 2014 – Part 1

In Memoriam 2014 - Part 1

Well, this post may well need to be broken up into a few parts due to the number of people I had heard about who had passed away this year. This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Phil Everly ...

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Facts About Canada

Facts About Canada

I have some things to say in response to Mark Rayner's article, as personal reflections. BTW, Rayner did the usual good write-up job with these kinds of articles. But you know, I can't read these kinds of "What is a Canadian" article without making a ...

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The Obfuscation of Electronics: The Behringer Xenyx 502

The Obfuscation of Electronics: The Behringer Xenyx 502

This is more like a meta-review. I have gone to Canada Computes where nearly the entire Behringer line is sold, and was impressed by the specs. But does it do what I want, the way I want it? I face a number of obstacles, being a ...

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Fortune Cookies for Human Rights

Fortune Cookies for Human Rights

You know, I was minding my own business in this classy Chinese restaurant, engorging myself on their copious buffet, had my fill, and was handed the bill with an accompanying fortune cookie. This fortune cookie (the one to the left) really existed, and I never saw ...

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T-Shirts I’d like to see

T-Shirts I'd like to see

The following image is rumored to exist on recent T-shirts, the latest of many "Che" fashion statements: ... well, at least something like it. I haven't seen it on any shirt, but some are saying that they saw it on some people at one time. But ...

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What is old is new: RPN on the HP 35s Scientific Calculator

What is old is new: RPN on the HP 35s Scientific Calculator

When I comment on technology, I like to discuss the good and the bad about it. I don't sell calculators, and I don't get freebies to review. That gives me the freedom to freely comment. One has to admit that for HP to sell a $90 ...

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Microphones

I had decided to do my little contribution to society, and join LibriVox.org, and record a free audio file for them. My biggest problem so far has been microphones. I have an Optimus mike that was purchased 5 years ago, and had hardly been used. ...

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Microphones Part 2: The war of silence

With the levels down so low, my test recording needed post-processing. I used Adobe Audition 1.5. In most of these audio-doctoring softwares, all you need to do is to normalize the levels, so that "0" is the highest your levels should go. Audition had a ...

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Getting f(x) notation to work in Maple

Getting f(x) notation to work in Maple

Maple is a robust math environment which can graph, solve equations, and solve for the unknown with the aid of its computer algebra solver (CAS), which is capable of computing exact roots of cubic functions, for example. I wanted to demonstrate for myself that Maple could ...

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Zero

Once upon a time, around the year 525 during the reign of Pope John I, a monk named Dionysius invented the idea of Anno Domini by producing a calendar which marked the time since the birth of Christ. The numbering of the years was adopted ...

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Kudos to the 1050 CHUM Memorial Blog

Kudos to the 1050 CHUM Memorial Blog

Recently, I've been hit (my website that is) by someone possibly checking his plethora of links from his/her website, and when I back-traced it, I find this cool blog which acts as a convincing historical shrine to the late great 1050 CHUM Radio in Toronto. ...

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The disappearance of misc.activism.progressive and the emergence of Thought Crime Radio

Almost four years ago, the articles in the USENET newsgroup misc.activism.progressive ground to a halt, and moderator Rich Winkel has all but disappeared from the USENET, whom I learn resided in Harrisburg (up until 2010, at least), a half hour or so drive from his former employer, the University of Missouri. He is now a computer systems analyst, and in his spare time, is a writer for the Thought Crime Radio blog.

misc.activism.progressive (MAP) was a moderated newsgroup which accepted submissions from authors of left-leaning articles. Opinions ranged from the mainstream NY Transfer News Collective (who often sent articles from, or based on news from Reuters, Wall Street Journal, the UK Independent and other feeds from the popular press) to the conspiracy theorists at InfoWars.

Some time between 2007 and 2008, one of the biggest contributors to MAP, NY Transfer News Collective, stopped posting articles, and its parent company, Blythe Systems seems to have folded, leaving no Internet trace of itself. The daily output of MAP was cut in half as a result.

Postings gradually died out until March 2011 when they died out completely. As far as I had been able to search out, there appeared to be no warning of this in previous years. Mind you, one would have to search through tens of thousands of posts going back to 2007 just before things started to peter out. By about 2010, name searches for “Rich Winkel” began to come up empty, but his email address was still around.

This newsgroup was always a great source of thought and news regarding labour, politics, and “alternative voices” (as long as you stay away from Infowars). It was always weak on health and science coverage. Medicare was well-covered (because that was more about government, and they were always better at that), but articles along the lines of “chemical xyz can kill you” were usually flaky and withered once you did your own research.

Measles epidemiology and junk science

To take a very recent example, Rich Winkel attached his name to this article, written a few days ago, which claims zero deaths from measles since 2003, but 108 deaths due to vaccines during the same period. The first quote he offers for the zero figure was by CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat, filtered though Associated Press, filtered through Fox News, filtered though the blog Vaccine Impact. The VAERS database he refers to says in its disclaimer that any statistics mentioned should not be taken as cause-and-effect. Anyone with high school math can tell you that correlation does not imply causation. VAERS says that they take in all reported data such as mortality after the injection of a vaccine whether or not the death was associated with a vaccine. The deaths, in other words were recorded in the database even if there were pre-existing conditions, accidents, or whatnot.

But of course, zero is a powerful number. I mean, zero. Zero! How can you argue with zero? Well, in fact you can. Going back to the CDC’s epidemiological data, there are deaths on any year between 2003 and now caused by Measles in the United States. It’s just that the number of measles outbreaks themselves is so low in the United States that it would not surprise me that the numbers would be extremely low (during 2003-2012 between 1 and 4). If I were the CDC chairman, I would round those number to zero, too.

And that would be one death for every dozen or so cases – some years, that a dozen cases would be all of the measles cases in a country of nearly 300 million inhabitants. On the other hand, the 108 figure is quoted without saying how many Americans were vaccinated during the past 12 years. Once I do the research from the source (rather than from quotes of quotes), I seem to get a picture of a successful immunization program, and the 108 deaths (out of the hundreds of millions of vaccinated Americans) could have been due to anything. One death out of a dozen for measles is a larger number than 100 deaths out of 300 million for vaccinations, by several orders of magnitude.

Death is one of the end products of measles, by the way. The CDC reports that, worldwide, 168,000 people died as a result of measles in 2008 alone. That number is pretty sobering.  This is a significant decrease from over 700,000 deaths in 2000. The CDC says that all of these numbers are low, since measles tends to be under-reported. But the 78% decrease, no doubt happened due to a successful immunization program. The CDC says the worldwide numbers cannot go down to zero, since there are counrties such as India, which are slow to apply the recommendations of the WHO, or cannot afford to.

The Florida cases reported by the CDC back in September, 2014 consisted of four child siblings, all between the ages of 7 and 13, none of whom were vaccinated. Measles is transmitted through the air by affected people coughing or sneezing. Did it spread? No, it didn’t. Why? The children in the school they attended, as well as the staff, were immunized, according to the same article. The children attended an amusement park where it was likely someone with measles was there from another country (this is usually the main disease vector in the United States for catching measles in any given year).

The family of those children claimed a religious exemption from vaccinations, and for some time the children recieved a free ride from needing to be immunized thanks to being around their immunized classmates (this is called herd immunity), but that was no protection once they came close to anyone with the actual disease.

Questioning whether the vaccine “works” is a distracting issue (actually, a non-issue since whether the measles vaccine works is beyond debate by any informed person including the CDC and the WHO), and a confusing, obfuscatory barrage of decontextualized factoids from this-and-that source does not advance any useful discussion.

The Philosophical issue of vaccinations

The issue here isn’t about a non-working vaccine or about big bad pharma making money off immunizations (which they are, but in at least this one case, it is well-earned IMO), but Rich Winkel misses a greater philosophical question that can indeed cause much genuine and badly-needed debate:

The parents of these children deny their children the vaccination, making a claim to associated with their freedom of religion. Should the need to protect the population from disease override the indiviual’s right to freedom of religion for the good of the general population?

I would weigh in that surely, not immunizing your children places them in harm’s way, and you ought to be seen as a negligent parent if you chose this path, regardless of your beliefs; but at the same time, you are exposing others to disease by their lack of protection. The viruses don’t care whose rights are curtailed by being immunized.

But hey, that’s just me. This is more of a topic which would play to Rich Winkel’s strengths, and it truly is a debate suppressed by the major media organs of our culture. I would leave the non-debate as to whether the Vaccine “works” to Fox News.

In Memoriam – Part 2

lauren+bacall1

Lauren Bacall.

Here is a link to the start of this series if you haven’t read it yet.

  • Lauren Bacall (12 Aug). She appeared in several movies alongside Humphrey Bogart. She was 89.
  • Oscar de la Renta (20 Oct). Fashion designer, dead at 82.
  • Dr. Ronald Colapinto (3 Jan). Toronto surgeon best known for developing an intervention which spared many patients from major surgery. He was 79.
  • Pat Quinn (23 Nov). Former Toronto Maple Leafs player, hockey coach, and manager, died at age 71.
  • Merle Bourwis (22 Nov). The oldest living Canadian as of Nov 22. Sum Ying Fung thereafter became the oldest living Canadian (see part 1). Bourwis died at 113.
  • Arturo Licata (24 Apr). It is surprising how rare it is for a supercentenarian to be male. But males living to age 111 such as Arturo Licata are rare in comparison. This would be the world’s oldest male whose age can be verified. He lived in Enna, Italy for all of his life. Sakari Momoi of Japan is 111, and is now the oldest male still living.
  • Jack Bruce (25 Oct). Former Cream lead singer and bassist, dead at 71.
  • Charles Keating (9 Aug). Actor in movies, the TV soap opera Another World and audiobook narrator, passed away at 72 of lung cancer.
  • Bobby Womack (27 Jun). The Soul/R&B singer passed away at age 70.
  • Bob Suter (9 Sep). Former 1980 Winter olympic hockey player (Miracle on Ice), passed away at age 57 suffering from a heart attack.
  • Theodore “Dutch” van Kirk (28 Jul). The pilot who flew The Enola Gay in World War II died at age 93.
  • Sid Caesar

    Sid Caesar

    Sid Caesar (12 Feb). 1950s comedian and television personality. Dead at 91.

  • Richard Attenborough (24 Aug). Famous actor and director, who directed films such as Gandhi, which won eight Academy Awards. He was 90.
  • Keith Davey (17 Jan). The Canadian politician, Senator, and campaign organizer and member of The Order of Canada died at age 84 after a battle with Alzheimers.
  • Jim Flaherty (10 Apr). Canada’s Conservative finanace minister until this year, died suddenly of a heart attack at age 63.
  • James Garner (19 Jul). The TV and movie actor known for playing Jim Rockford in the show The Rockford  Files, passed away in Los Angeles after a period of having heart problems. He was 86.
  • Johnny Winter (16 Jul). The albino blues guitarist for The Edgar Winter Group died after a concert in Zurich, Switzerland at age 70.
  • Ann B. Davis (1 June). Known for her role as housekeeper Alice Nelson on The Brady Bunch. She was 88.
  • Harold Ramis (Feb 24). Former Second City troupe member, contemporary of Dan Akroyd, John Belushi and Bill Murray, he directed blockbuster comedies such as Animal House, Meatballs, Caddyshack, Analyze This, and Ghostbusters. He was 69, after succumbing to a rare disease.
  • Tommy Ramone (11 Jul). Former drummer of the 70s punk rock band The Ramones, and the last surviving original member of the band, died at age 62 after a battle with cancer.
  • garbiel_g_marquez

    Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    Gabriel Garcia Marquez (17 Apr). Columbian author and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, died at age 87 in Mexico City after a battle with complications leading to pneumonia.

  • Casey Kasem (15 Jun). Radio personality best known for his hosting the radio program American Top 40 for over 20 years. He was 82.
  • Mickey Rooney (16 Apr). Actor in several films stemming from his childhood years, dead at 93.
  • Simone Battle (9 Sep). X-Factor performer and member of rock group GRL, committed suicide at age 25.
  • Jimi Jamison (31 Aug). Lending his heavy metal guitar stylings to the rock band Survivor after their success seemed to be on the wane, he helped generate at least two top-selling albums and several more singles. He died at age 63 of a stroke.
  • Ralph Waite (13 Feb). Played father John Walton in the TV serial The Waltons, died peacefully at age 85 in Palm Desert, California.
  • willardboyle

    A digital photograph of Dr. Willard Boyle. You knew this was coming.

    Willard Boyle (7 May). Canadian physicist, Order of Canada companion and Nobel Prize winner, did research which paved the way for digital photography for which all web designers and bloggers remain in debt. He was 86.

  • Knowlton Nash (24 May). Longtime anchor of CBC’s The National died at age 86.
  • And last but not least, British singer and guitarist Joe Cocker, dead after rumors of them were not shown to be exaggerated, died of lung cancer in Crawford, Colorado on 22 December.

In Memoriam 2014 – Part 1

Well, this post may well need to be broken up into a few parts due to the number of people I had heard about who had passed away this year. This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Phil Everly (Jan 3), one half of the influential vocal duo The […] […]

Go to article In Memoriam 2014 – Part 1

SJ: New, improved and updated

This blog has been flaky since an incident happened which caused this blog to be relocated to another server. However, After about two solid days of work trying to fix much of its brokenness (especially the audio/video), things are pretty much all fixed. There are still problems whenever a link to a video for streaming […] […]

Go to article SJ: New, improved and updated

All-time top-10

This top 10 music list is inspired by a YouTube video. The problem with the video was that it didn’t seem to be going for what was really all-time status; it seemed to be aimed at people whose memories go back no more than 20 years. That is, so long as we trust The Beatles, […] […]

Go to article All-time top-10

In a world where all noise are created equal VI: “Christmas” music

Only 5 days to Christmas, and you need some music. Let me help out … It’s that time of year again, and here are some musical genres listed at Every Noise at Once that have “Christmas” in the names: celtic christmas This is a good, Irish-influenced way to hear Xmas music: Clannad, The Chieftans, Enya, … christian christmas  As opposed […] […]

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In a world where all noise are created equal V: “Black” music …?

Music genres with “Black” in the names … atmospheric black metal black death black metal black sludge black thrash blackgaze chaotic black metal dark black metal depressive black metal more symphonic black metal pagan black metal raw black metal symphonic black metal unblack metal […]

Go to article In a world where all noise are created equal V: “Black” music …?

In a world where all noise are created equal IV: names that sound like something else …

If you thought long enough about these names, they would have other (non-musical) connotations. Just sayin’. And yes, there are people who claim these genres really exist. big room bouncy house catstep charred death corrosion deathgrind deep chill deep house deep liquid experimental psych fake fallen angel full on funeral doom  If it was my funeral, I wouldn’t care future garage goregrind gothic doom guidance hands up hard alternative  Then, is it worth my while? hauntology jerk lowercase microhouse minimal wave nordic house power […] […]

Go to article In a world where all noise are created equal IV: names that sound like something else …

In a world where all noise are created equal III: Absurdly obtuse genre names

Whether due to the fusion of too many genres or names which relegate the band to certain obscurity, these are ones I chose which I cannot even imagine what the sound must be like. To know, the website Every Noise at Once gives sound samples of most bands and genres they list. alternative new age ambient psychill  Most […] […]

Go to article In a world where all noise are created equal III: Absurdly obtuse genre names

If operating systems were airlines (a compilation)

If Operating Systems Were Airlines is a popular article that predates the web, and was first seen in Usenet in the 1980s. Over time, it has undergone several revisions all over the internet. Here is a compilation as far as I can do. Most of this is sourced from webaugur.com. But there has been other […] […]

Go to article If operating systems were airlines (a compilation)

In a world where all noise are created equal II: Futile Reinvention

Here is a list of names of genres that appear as futile attempts at reinvention of existing genres: abstract hip hop chaotic hardcore brutal deathcore deep disco Contradiction in terms deeper house There are a raft of genres preceded by the adjective “deeper” which seem to exist. disco polo folk-prog folk punk geek folk geek rock grave wave A genre that admits that new wave is dead. hard stoner rock math […] […]

Go to article In a world where all noise are created equal II: Futile Reinvention

In a world where all noise are created equal I: Genres I know nothing about

The website everynoise.com deals in some way with plotting the musical classification categories of all music that exists (to which they are aware) on their web page. The next few articles form a small sample of the nearly 1500 genres listed. On that website, if you click on a genre, you are given a sound […] […]

Go to article In a world where all noise are created equal I: Genres I know nothing about

What I liked about Robin Williams

Robin Williams was a great comedian, whose greatest strengths lay in ad-libbing. It is said that the writers for Mork and Mindy left intentional gaps in the script so that Robin could fill it in with his lightning-fast ad-libbing. He played very funny characters on stage and TV, but he also played very warm, but serious […] […]

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In memoriam 2009 (what the heck)

I had something else in mind when I compiled this list of people who passed away back in 2009. For the heck of it, I am posting some “interesting” people who died that year (not in any particular order): Les Paul – Guitarist and maker of guitars. Inventor of the electric guitar. Rock wouldn’t have […] […]

Go to article In memoriam 2009 (what the heck)

Alex Jones and his nutty ideas

As you may have known, I have a thing for loonies in that I find their stuff so entertaining. Alex Jones is neither a lefty, nor is he right-wing. He’s nothing more than a conspiracy nutjob, pure and undiluted by rational thought, although there is the occasional flash of bright light which gets quickly clouded […] […]

Go to article Alex Jones and his nutty ideas

Critique of the “Mindblowing Fact” video on income inequality

The video in question  is quite “mind-blowing” as promised, indeed, at over 13 million hits, it can even be called “viral”, but there are problems in how it presents and handles facts and references. While I don’t have a problem with the facts, and I am quite certain they are based on serious numbers, the […] […]

Go to article Critique of the “Mindblowing Fact” video on income inequality

The Chances of Winning the Lotto

Winning the lottery is how many people believe they will become financially secure in their lives. In fact, about one person in 4 believe  this. The chances of winning a lottery like the Massachusetts Megabucks lotto or the Ontario Lotto 6-49 are based in the idea that, out of 49 numbers available, you choose 6 numbers […] […]

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Rob Ford and His Continued Support

Etobicoke. People in hard times. Yeah, there are good parts of this Toronto borough, but huge parts of it are run-down and filling up with down-and-outers looking to make a buck any way they can. People in hard times, closed shops and factories, low rates of literacy, and not much money to spend. After decades of […] […]

Go to article Rob Ford and His Continued Support

Rob Ford and his Enablers

An “Etobicoke resident”, who went by the name of Joy Green, was interviewed twice by the CBC, once for CBC Newsworld, and one more time for As It Happens on CBC Radio One. Etobicoke, a Toronto bourough which is known for shuttered factories and high crime, is known to some (like me) as “the Automotive […] […]

Go to article Rob Ford and his Enablers

Rob Ford: A comedy Review

The Saturday Night Live (SNL) parody of the Toronto Crack-Smoking-Mayor-in-name-only Rob Ford has been roundly declared, from many sources in radio and blogs, and me, to be not funny. A post-mortem is in order as to why SNL, the foremost bastion of coolness-and-funny, dropped the ball bigtime on this one with last Saturday’s show opener […] […]

Go to article Rob Ford: A comedy Review

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